By Ed Byrne * The Brillion News
WRIGHTSTOWN – One of the oldest family-owned businesses in Wrightstown is planning to expand into the Village of Sherwood.
The owners of Wrightstown’s only grocery store, Dick’s Family Foods, posted this message on the store’s Facebook page on Saturday:
“Some very exciting news has hit this weekend for Dick’s Family Foods. We are in the final stages of striking a deal to open a brand new grocery store in Sherwood.
“There aren’t many details on it yet, but as soon as it becomes finalized, we will let you know. Thank you for letting us serve you as your local neighborhood grocer.”
Sherwood Village Administrator Randy Friday said the village had been looking for a grocery store to open in Sherwood for more than three years.
Former village President David Miller, Trustee Jim Rath and Friday had been researching possible grocers to open a store.
“You have to look for the right type … the right size, the right fit, because we’re not going to get some 100,000 square foot Festival Foods in here,” Friday said.
But the village did approach the Skogan family, which owns the Festival chain, to see if they had any interest in developing a smaller store under their brand – much like the Shopko Hometown stores.
The Skogans were not interested.
So Sherwood began looking at other options. It went to the Wisconsin Grocers Association’s (WGA) annual convention and set up a booth with signs and posters and actively searched for someone to consider Sherwood.
The WGA told Friday no other municipality had ever rented booth space at its convention trying to attract a grocery store.
“We did a little fishing there and got a couple of bites,” Friday said.
Rick Vanden Wymelenberg, who runs Dick’s together with his brother John, said Sherwood contacted them soon after TJ’s grocery in Sherwood closed several years ago.
“At that time I told them we weren’t ready for [another store] yet,” Rick said. “This time not only do we have the staff, but we now have a better handle on things we are doing … our business model.”
Friday lives north of Wrightstown and stopped at Dick’s Family Foods many times to shop on the way home.
Rath is a high school sports referee, worked many games at Wrightstown and was familiar with Dick’s too.
“We approached [Dick’s] and chatted with them and let Jim [Rath] do a nice little low-key approach,” Friday said.
Sherwood also made contact with the IGA rep for the area who provides stock for the Vanden Wymelenbergs’ store. The IGA man said he felt Dick’s would be “a natural” fit for Sherwood.
“It just really seemed to start making sense with them,” Friday said.
The village also has another resource: its tax increment financing district to provide funding to help prepare a buildable site for a new grocery store in Sherwood, next to the new Upper Wanick Park.
“We are carving off about seven acres to be the grocery store site [and a storm water pond and roadway],” Friday said.
The store site is on Castle Drive and Knight Drive – a block south of State 114/55.
When the details were laid out, the Vanden Wymelenberg brothers were interested.
“We’re gifting them $400,000 in tax increment money,” Friday said. “We know they’re going to bring jobs here and, most importantly, they’re going to be a service provider – just what the village needs.”
Friday said there are good reasons to expect the store to be successful. Wrightstown and Sherwood are about the same size, both are bedroom communities where most people work outside of the community, and the Dick’s model is a full-service supermarket with good variety and competitive pricing.
“It helps that Sherwood is a community in size similar to Wrightstown so there’s a lot of good things we can replicate,” Rick said.
“They would instantly become the largest employer in the village,” Friday said.
To read the full story … pick up a copy of the Dec. 6, 2012 edition of The Brillion News.